Neil Heslin, father of Sandy Hook victim, asks Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh: What could have prevented what happened that day?
You know the cycle. A tragic school shooting takes place, breaks the heart of our nation and we stay glued to the television. Talking heads abound, but you won’t see people like empathy master Roman Krznaric or Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Nope. You’ll see a split-screen argument between a pro-gun advocate and an anti-gun advocate. There will be talk about adding more armed security guards, adding locks to all doors, and even “shooting drills” where kids are taught how to respond if a shooter enters their classroom. It stirs our emotions, the media company sees their ratings go through the roof, we (naturally) pick a side and then too often fall into the trap of believing that these heads, because of their placement and enthusiasm and because of our own vulnerability, have a definitive answer.
Let it be known that there isn’t a single definitive answer. There are many answers, many answers that if simultaneously incorporated could help turn the tide of this type of violence. Neil Heslin, a wounded man whose child died at Sandy Hook, went to Thich Nhat Hanh and found a few of these types of answers:
(1) Recognize the hard fact that the one who killed is also a victim.
(2) Recognize the devastating importance of practicing empathy and teaching emotional awareness as part of our concept of “education.” See below for my recommended book on precisely how to do this.
For strategies and creative ideas to help children practice empathy and emotional awareness, check out Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children.
Like The Good Men Project on Facebook